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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Nurture their nature

I think every mother knows that one day her time as perfect in her child's eyes will be up. 

Every mother, no matter how hard she tries, knows full well that if one of the kids ever goes to therapy as an adult the first thing the shrink is going to say is "tell me about your mother."  Whatever goes wrong in the future we all know that the string will be followed back to us.

Daughters in particular have an extremely clear eye about ways in which their mothers can improve. For instance today mine mentioned to me that I was a very intense person and they all know that. 


She must have seen me with a seam ripper in my hand at 11:00 pm.

She also says some very nice things to me too, which I like to think are as accurate as the above.

One thing she tells me is that I nurtured their nature, meaning the three of my children are all very different and I noticed this.

Now we both know there is very little difference between sewing and life. One informs the other.

Fabrics are like children.

It seems to me that too often we proceed as if completely different fabrics should behave the same way.

"I never had this trouble with your brother getting him to do his homework."

And of course this approach works about as well for fabrics as it does for kids.

Case in point.

A few weeks ago I made a Rockford Raglan out of some weird but wonderful crinkly grey tissue knit. I was doing some assembly line sewing at the time, under pressure to get some tops made before I went on a little trip. As a result I whacked on a neckband to this fabric just like the neckbands I successfully had put on a few other shirts.

Somewhere in the back of my mind when I did this was a little voice saying "this fabric is super light, are you sure this is a good idea?"

At the time I was not in a slowing down mood so I ignored that voice.

The neckband was of course not very nice. I persuaded myself that the rippling was simply the result of the wrinkles in the fabric and not operator error.

However I wore this top yesterday and that neckline bothered me all day.

So last night I cut it off just before bed. 

Below is exactly why this neckband didn't work and evidence that I should have known better. See how all that heavy serging overworked the fabric? 

Exhibit A:

Honestly Babs. 

I should be ashamed to show you this. I make a lot of sacrifices for the educational value of this blog.

A complication of this surgery was that I was left with a top that was crazy terrible with a wide open neck that would never fit on my chicken neck and shoulders. 

Exhibit B:

Remind me to learn how to take a selfie. How are you actually supposed to do it when the phone is in front of you? A learning task for another day apparently.

After this bit of drama I went to bed and couldn't sleep.  I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do with this hacked up top now.

When I got up this morning I had an idea.

My idea was to nurture the random floaty fabric of this top  with my one remaining remnant and put in a cowl neckline. I figured this would bridge the opening and my neck, and let the fabric sort of be fluffy like it wanted to be. 

Here is the result as photographed by my granddaughter this afternoon.

And here is the full view:

A shout out to my photographer. I asked her if she had time to take my picture. 

Scarlett said "Babs I am a kid, I always have time." 

She did however want me to explain that this messy wrinkled fabric is supposed to look like this. She doesn't want you to think I am a person who doesn't know when something needs to be ironed.

And here she is, a kid who always has time and has heard of ironing:


Kansas Sky said...

I swear I had to unserge a neckline just yesterday, but in this case, it was because the taupe-pink contrast band was an awful shade right next to my skin. I just couldn’t wear that absolutely otherwise perfect top. So ..... today I cut a modified t-neck cowl that I expect to work much better. I, too, shoulda listened to my initial misgivings. .... I’m eager to see more of those assembly line tops!

Sarah Wale said...

Yet again you hit the nail on the head regarding families ... I love that you recognise the differences in your children and that they recognise that you do, and nurtured them accordingly. Bravo!
I love Scarlett! A great photographer, a wise child who understand time and someone who understands about ironing - she's a keeper, that's for sure!
The cowl neck suits that top and fabric perfectly - it's so good you had the disaster with the original neck binding or you would never have discovered how well the cowl works.
Stay happy and busy and keep on bloggin'

Kay said...

First, I just want to say I love this kid. Love her attitude, love her smile, love her dimpled chin.

So far as learning to let fabric, and children, and other things be who they are instead of forcing them to be who or what you want them to be, oh my yes. I remember taking a basket-making class with natural materials when my kids were young.Basket making is a lot like sewing: you take flat materials and work them together to make something useful in 3 dimensions. My sons were very bright, active, creative, and had learning differences that made it hard for them to fit in to regular classrooms. Parenting them was a challenge to find ways that maximized the ways they fit and minimized the ways they didn't. I remember at this basket class I was working with wisteria vine, and I started out to make a small round basket, but the vines were not flexible enough so I changed to a platter shape. Another woman was fighting with her materials and I commented that she might want to modify her design. It's like raising children, I said, you have to keep modifying your techniques based on the raw materials you have. She seemed a little annoyed with me, and in her conversation it sounded like she wasn't real flexible in handling the challenges her kids brought either. I don't think she was too happy with her finished basket, but I liked mine. I had a lot of fun making it and learned a lot of techniques. It sold for a lot of money at the school fundraiser a few weeks later.

Margaret said...

Babs, you never fail with your words of wisdom.
What a fab granddaughter!

Patricia said...

Oh my, what a great save! And what a lovely granddaughter too.

Kansas Sky said...

I love that your grandchildren call you Babs. This one -- she's as smart as you are!!

Judith Newman said...

Babs, too be honest, I'd say that grey top isn't a keeper - the wrinkly fabric and overly large neckline (even though it's sort of rescued with the cowl) kinda looks home made and isn't exactly flattering. I felt I could tell you that because you were being honest yourself about the sewing blunder.

Tracy King said...

That’s my go to fix when I mess up a neckline and sadly I’m no stranger to it ha ha. I always try to not do a full bust adjustment but it rarely works out. Usually I end up doing some sort of shirt surgery to fix it. I’m waiting for my hubby to ask why all the shirts I make have cowl necks. Your granddaughter is gorgeous and she sounds like she listens to her Babs and is growing up wise.

Anne B. said...

Love the idea of a cowl neck instead of a regular neckband for light weight knits. I will definitely consider dong this as I have a few light knits to sew as tops for myself. First, I need to work through a small number of garments I promised my family. Scarlett is a good photographer! How nice to be able to count on such a lovely helper :)

tpotty28 said...

Insightful words we can all benefit from living by. I've noticed that shouting at your fabric doesn't help. Love your top and the improvisation of the cowl neck really suits it. Fabulous granddaughter the wisdom must be genetic.